Salvia Clevelandii Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Cleveland Sage”

Read our guide to Salvia Clevelandii for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for "Cleveland Sage".

Are you looking for a beautiful and highly aromatic flower to add to your plant collection? Look no further than the Cleveland Sage!

Salvia Clevelandii, commonly known as Cleveland Sage, is a drought-tolerant evergreen rounded subshrub very popular for its unique look and hypnotizing fragrance. Thanks to its fragrant blooms, this plant is like a magnet to various pollinators, including bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and birds.

The plant’s name was given by Asa Gray back in 1874 to honour plant collector Daniel Cleveland. Today, it is a popular landscape plant, especially in Southwest USA, mainly for its ability to grow exceedingly abundantly.

Cleveland Sage also has medicinal properties, being a natural remedy for cough and chest cold and a remedy for poison oak. Its leaves can also be used to make a refreshing tea or as an aromatic herb in cooking different dishes. But, the best part of it all is that Cleveland Sage is also remarkably easy to care for.

Ready to learn more about how to grow and care for Cleveland Sage? Keep reading below!

About Cleveland Sage

  • Cleveland Sage is native to the coast of California and Baja California. It grows below 3,000 feet (900m) elevation in coastal sage and chaparral habitat of the area.
  • Salvia Clevelandii is the botanical name of Cleveland Sage, and it is part of the Lamiaceae family. This perennial is also known as Fragrant Sage, Blue Sage, Cleveland Sage, Jim Sage, and California Blue Sage.
  • This perennial has a lot of landscaping uses. It is perfect for neutralizing large natural areas thanks to its abundant growth. It is also a lovely addition to beds and borders and Mediterranean gardens. Cleveland Sage works perfectly in butterfly gardens because its fragrance and colour are very attractive to these pollinators.
  • Cleveland Sage is a plant that thrives in full sun. It can also adapt to partial shade, but it is a good idea to provide it with at least a few hours of sunlight daily. So, plant it in a sunny spot.
  • In terms of soil preferences, this highly scented subshrub needs fertile but well-draining soil. The soil needs to provide good drainage to prevent root rot.
  • Cleveland Sage requires minimal watering. During the hot season, it is best to only water the plant only once a month. During the cold season, water your Cleveland Sage once every two weeks. Keep in mind that the soil should be moist but never soggy.
  • This evergreen subshrub is relatively cold-tolerant, being able to survive temperatures as low as 10°F (-12.22°C). The flower grows best at temperatures between 60-66°F (16-19°C).
  • Cleveland Sage isn’t known to be a toxic plant for humans or pets. So, you don’t have to worry about planting it in a spot that is out of the reach of your pets’ and kids’.
  • There aren’t many pests and diseases to which Cleveland Sage is susceptible. Yet, keep an eye out for spittlebugs and nematodes. You can get rid of spittlebugs by handpicking them or by using insecticidal soap.
  • Don’t forget about the plant’s sensibility to root rot. A notable sign of root rot is when the foliage starts to turn brown. If you suspect root rot, replace the used soil with a dry one and cut the damaged roots to prevent it from spreading.
Salvia Clevelandii
Salvia Clevelandii

Cleveland Sage Features: An Overview

  • Cleveland Sage is a small, fast-growing rounded, evergreen subshrub that can grow up to 3-5 feet (90-150 cm) tall and 5-8 feet (150-240 cm) wide.
  • This evergreen subshrub features arching branches that are filled with an abundance of tubular-shaped lavender to dark purple flowers that appear in mid-spring to late summer.
  • Its leaves have a wrinkly leather texture and feature tiny ridged teeth along the edges.
  • It is a highly aromatic plant which makes it very attractive to pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

Growing Cleveland Sage

As mentioned before, growing Cleveland Sage flowers is an easy task. These plants are resistant to all types of threats, including freezing temperatures, drought, and even deer. What’s more, Cleveland Sage also has very basic growing needs. So, whether you are an experienced or a beginner gardener, caring for Cleveland Sage shouldn’t give you a hard time.

First of all, keep in mind the plant’s needs for full sun to thrive. Although Cleveland Sage can also adapt to partial shade, you should make sure that it gets at least a few hours of full sun daily. Choose a sunny spot in your garden to grow your Cleveland Sage.

Next, although Cleveland Sage doesn’t require fertilizer, it will benefit from it. Keep in mind that Cleveland Sage flowers are light feeders, so they don’t require heavy doses of fertilizer. Feed your plant every now and then to make sure it gets the proper nutrients to stay happy and healthy.

Some pruning and maintenance are also essential to keep your Cleveland Sage happy and healthy. To extend the blooming season for your flower, you can deadhead it. In fall, you can also prune it lightly for a more compact size and shape.

Salvia clevelandii, Blue Sage Starter Plant (10 Plants), From Amazon

Planting Cleveland Sage

Planting Cleveland Sage isn’t that difficult either. However, there are a few essential things you need to keep in mind to ensure successful planting. More precisely, you need to consider the light requirements of the subshrub, the soil preferences, and the temperatures it thrives in.

First, we’ve already mentioned that the plant is sun-loving. So, plant your Cleveland Sage in a sunny location where it will receive full sun most of the day. Suppose you live in an area with an extremely hot climate. In that case, it is also acceptable and even desirable to plant your Cleveland Sage in a spot where it gets partial shade, especially in the afternoon.

Next, remember the soil needs. This plant can adapt to various soil types. However, it prefers sandy and loamy soil, preferably with a neutral pH of 6.0 to 8.0. don’t forget that Cleveland Sage needs to be planted in well-draining soil because it is prone to root rot due to overwatering. To make well-draining soil, mix the native soil in your garden with coarse sand or crusher fines. This will allow excess water to pass through the soil and not keep it soggy. To prevent waterlogged soil, you should also provide ample spacing between and around the plants to allow air circulation.

Another thing to remember is that although this plant is cold-tolerant, it can only survive temperatures higher than 10°F (-12.22°C). So, if the winter months in your area get colder than that, consider planting your Cleveland Sage in a container that you can bring indoors during the cold season.

Watering Cleveland Sage

The most important thing to know about watering your Cleveland Sage is the fact that overwatering can kill it. This flower is prone to root rot if it sits in soggy soil for too long. Also, remember that this plant is drought-tolerant, meaning that it is best to underwater it than to overwater it.

Besides that, this aromatic subshrub has minimal watering requirements. In fact, it is enough to water the plant once every two weeks in the cold season and once a month in summer. Keep in mind that overwatering during the hot season can be lethal to the plant.

To make sure that you never overwater your Cleveland Sage, practice the “soak and dry” watering method. More precisely, all you have to do is to allow the first few inches of the soil to dry between waterings. If you grow your Cleveland Sage in a container, make sure to remove excess water in case you pour too much.

Cleveland Sage flower
Cleveland Sage flower

Propagating Cleveland Sage

If you want more of these lovely flowers in your outdoor space, you can quickly propagate them. You can do so from seed sown outdoors in spring.

You can start by sowing the seeds directly in the grown, but only after the risk of frost has passed. Sow them about 1/8 inches (3,17 mm) deep in moist, not soggy soil. Make sure to keep the soil moist but do not allow it to become waterlogged until germination.

You can also start seeds indoors about six to eight weeks before you plan on planting them out. The sowing process is precisely the same. Make sure to place the seed starting containers in direct sunlight or use grow lights. Before transplanting them to the garden, first, move them to a sheltered place outdoors for about a week. Start by providing them with a few hours of outdoor time and gradually increase the amount of time spent outdoors over the course of a week.

In Conclusion

Cleveland Sage is a really interesting plant to have in your outdoor space. It can be a fantastic focal point in your outdoor space, filling it with bold purple blooms and plenty of friendly insects.

This subshrub is incredibly resistant to many threats that typically affect other garden plants and has minimal growing needs. In return for your care, this flower will fill your outdoor space with its hypnotizing fragrance and attract various pollinators that are good news for your other garden plants as well.

Are you growing Cleveland Sage? Let us know in the comments!

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact

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